[BLOG] Teachings of the Land of Israel: God Our Mentor

March 7, 2016

2 min read

Our moral and ethical standing on Earth determines our standing in the cosmic realm.  What is more is that God’s personal involvement in mentoring the Jewish People reflects the unique closeness between God and His People.

The beginning of the Book of Numbers brings us to God’s communion with Moses at the opening of the Tent of Meeting. Throughout their station in the Wilderness, God communes with the Jewish People through this very specific conduit.

The conservative proportions of this communion – in the seclusion of a Tent (of Meeting) intrigued the Sages of the Land of Israel and has generated much exegesis. Why does God not aggrandize His Revelation by holding it in an open area and with dramatic scenery as He did when the He gave us the Torah?

Yannai, the great 6th century Poet of the Land of Israel versified the Torah Portion of Bamidbar as follows:

“The God of Glory which dwells in concealment; Your words of Glory you have spoken – although not in concealment. Lest dissenters say that something was changed; You have changed your Glory which is  [usually] in concealment”

God gave His People the Torah in public view for everyone to see and witness lest dissenters ever have the chance to distort and question God’s word. If everyone were to hear God’s words themselves they would not be so easily controverted.

Yannai, consumed by his national conscience, focuses on the implications of the Revelation for the Jewish People. Earlier Sages, by contrast, saw the Revelation as something much broader in scope targeting not only the Jewish People, but also the nations surrounding them.

According to the Mekhilta of Rabbi Ismael, God wished to teach the nations of His Unity and dispel any notions that (many) different gods could have come to the aid of the Jewish People throughout their history (Hodesh #5, pg. 220).

Yannai continues his verse:

“Your approach to speak the words of the Pleasant Nation; You spoke all the Glory of the Glorified ones inwards. He spoke from the Tent concealing work to guide kingship with walking in concealment.”

Yannai refers here to the Tent of Meeting when he speaks of “inwardness”. The reason that God communed with the Jewish People from a mere tent, in concealment rather than in the open with ostentation and drama is because God wished to teach the Jewish People of the importance of modesty as the foundation of one’s behavior and character.

Yannai, like many of the great poets of Israel, placed the Jewish People in an extremely lofty rank in the hierarchy of the Universe. Our moral and ethical standing on Earth determines our standing in the cosmic realm. What is more is that God’s personal involvement in mentoring the Jewish people reflects the unique closeness between God and His People.

You can find the Torat Eretz Yisrael Institute on Academia here.

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